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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Humans vs. robots: the machines will destroy us

    Chase Gilbertcolumnist
    Chase Gilbert
    columnist

    T

    he common perception of new technology is that it makes our lives better, simpler and more efficient. We accept new forms of technology with open arms, paying heavy costs to own them – yet they come with an even heavier price.

    Advances and availabilities in communication and entertainment should bring people closer together and allow them to form a better bond with one another, improving society as a whole. In actuality, they are driving a wedge between every person in the country.

    A study done by sociologists at Duke University and the UA shows the amount of confidence people place in one another is dwindling. Their data concludes the average number of people with whom Americans can confide in has decreased from 2.94 in 1985 to 2.08 in 2004. People, as individuals and as a nation, are receding from one another by not participating in social clubs and organizations, as well as simply not interacting with those outside their immediate circle of friends or relatives.

    This large flux was unexpected by those conducting the survey.

    “”It’s unusual to see very large social changes like this that aren’t tied to some type of demographic shift in population,”” said Miller McPherson, lead researcher and professor of sociology at Duke. The researchers could only speculate on the cause of such a dramatic change.

    The progression, or rather declination of the nation’s social culture can be attributed to a slew of radical and unique changes in society fueled by the technology boom..

    Even face-to-face
    interactions are interrupted by technology in the form of iPods and cell phones. It is rarely considered rude to send text messages or even listen to music while speaking with someone in person.

    Almost every American is now connected to another, not only in person but also through e-mail, cellular phones, text messaging, instant messaging and so on. Members of American society can access any person at any time, as long they are willing.

    Technology has allowed solicitors into people’s homes and computers, they call during dinner and fill people’s e-mail inboxes with spam in attempts to convince them to refinance their mortgage or elongate their penis, safely and naturally by the way. It has encouraged consumerism to the point of competition; a veritable nation wide race with the “”Joneses.”” This obsession with the material has shoved our compassion to the curb, destroying our trust for one another and encouraging people to remain distant and reserved.

    The ability to communicate through text and over the phone allows people to forego face-to-face meetings while still effectively communicating information. Without meeting in person, people do not have the opportunity to get to know each another and all that is achieved is a massive trading of cold data. Sometimes, people do not get to even meet their own boss.

    As we communicate with abbreviated messages, giving and receiving only the meat of conversations, intimacy is lost. Without it, our loyalties and bonds disintegrate or never form, leaving people in communication with as many others as they like, but preventing any meaningful relationships from being developed.

    Even face-to-face interactions are interrupted by technology in the form of iPods and cell phones. It is rarely considered rude to send text messages or even listen to music while speaking with someone in person During lunch with a friend, a person may have several conversations with other people while attempting to remain attentive to the actual person seated across from them. This lack of involvement and basic consideration usually will go ignored, perpetuating the behavior and establishing it as the norm.

    With people drifting further and further apart and as this generation prepares to take the reigns of the world, the resulting society of loners will cease to function on the scale it has thus far. Matthew Brashears, a UA sociology graduate student who helped conduct the survey, predicts a “”decline in civic engagement.”” Government operations and democracy itself stand to suffer as people decide not to participate in organizations and government. We must relearn to engage one another – if not for our own individual happiness, then for the continuation and preservation of our way of life.

    Chase Gilbert is a journalism
    senior. He can be reached at
    letters@wildcat.arizona.edu.

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